Even if it ain't fixed, don't break it

Vendors often ask me, "What is it that prompts a storage manager to buy a new product for his storage network?" While I don't profess to know and understand why each one buys a product, a good place to start is by understanding why storage managers do not introduce new products into their storage-area network environment.

Storage managers do have an interest in lowering their organizations' costs, exploring new technologies or improving efficiencies. However, their role is akin to the guy who manages your local utility operations. If everything operates as it is supposed to, he is doing his job. If he takes a chance and then something breaks, guess who ends up on the chopping block?

Yet the challenges go beyond that for storage managers. Managing SANs where you have complete control over purchasing decisions, implementations and operations is difficult enough. The tools that track what servers are where, how the SAN is growing, who is using what and where the data resides are still costly to deploy and require dedicated people to manage the tools and interpret the data.

Unfortunately, that is only a small part of the equation. Rapidly changing storage technologies, corporate consolidations and acquisitions, and other managers with storage purchasing authority all contribute to an environment where control is low and the expectations high. Then, if they do keep all the balls in the air, no one appreciates it.

So to reach storage managers, start slow, understand their environment and identify where risks are low and paybacks are high.

With new products come new risks, and with storage managers having little to gain from climbing out on a ledge, vendors need to first make sure that they have done all they can do to ensure their customer experiences a safe landing.

Jerome Wendt is a storage engineer and storage analyst

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